Industry agreement promises to increase healthy options for school meals

JAN. 24—A new multi-industry voluntary agreement was announced Friday by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. The agreement brings together food manufacturers, group purchasing organizations and technology companies to help schools serve healthier meals at more affordable prices. As a result of the agreement, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation says more than 30 million students will have access to healthier school meals.

Companies that have signed up for the agreement are: AdvancePierre Foods, Domino’s Pizza, JTM Food Group, McCain Foods USA, Rick Products Corp., Schwan’s Food Service, Trident Seafoods, HPS, Premier healthcare alliance, Summa/Provista, Interflex, Dole Food Co., and the National Turkey Federation. The companies have agreed to develop, market and competitively price products that will lead to healthier school meal options, streamline the ordering process and make identifying healthy options easier.

Signatories have agreed to set prices for healthier items that meet the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s science-based standards for nutrition at prices no higher than less healthy comparable products. Participating manufacturers also have pledged to increase the sales of compliant products to at least 50% of their entire school sales within five years.

Product commitments fall in at least one of the following categories within the Alliance’s science-based guidelines for school foods:

  • Lean protein products, such as lean red meat, skinless poultry, lean deli meats, fat-free or low-fat cheese, beans and tofu
  • Low-fat entrées with reduced total fat, saturated fat and sodium levels
  • Whole-grain products, such as bread, pasta and pizza crust
  • Fresh, canned or frozen fruit
  • Non-fried vegetables; and
  • Zero trans fat cooking oils

“With students consuming up to half of their daily calories at school, healthy school meals are key to winning the fight against childhood obesity,” said President Bill Clinton, founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation, which funds the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, along with the American Heart Association, in a press release.

“Increased access and lower prices to purchase healthy meal components makes it easier for schools to offer healthier school meals—a key strategy to help combat childhood obesity and to move students and staff toward ideal cardiovascular health,” said Ralph Sacco, M.D., president of the American Heart Association and chairman, department of neurology Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami, in a press release.